Mubarak reassures Egyptians in TV interview

/ Source: The Associated Press

President Hosni Mubarak, in Germany for treatment for a slipped disc, gave an interview to Egyptian television from his hospital room to reassure Egyptians that he will return home soon.

It is very rare for state media to report on the health of the 76-year-old president, and the appearance seemed designed to counter rumors that Mubarak was seriously ill. The three-minute interview first aired Wednesday night and was replayed Thursday morning. It was front page news in all national papers.

“I thank the concerned brotherly citizens and I tell them that I am currently undergoing daily treatment, and I am doing the required (physiotherapy),” said Mubarak, looking weary but lucid and dressed in pajamas and a dark, striped robe.

“I am running the affairs (of the state) from here to an extent,” he said. “The government is working, and if they need anything I talk with them. There is no problem from this point at all.”

Mubarak left to Germany on Sunday and appointed Prime Minister Atef Obeid as acting president during his absence.

Mubarak, sitting in a chair and slightly bending over at times, said doctors will decide to operate if the physiotherapy doesn’t yield results.

“It’s as if I am on vacation for a week. ... One has to rest for a while,” the president said.

The pro-government Al Akhbar newspaper reported that more than 87,000 state and private mosques will pray for Mubarak’s health during Friday’s prayers “as a recognition of the services he offered the country and its people all his life.”

In November, the president interrupted a speech to parliament for 30 minutes, suffering a cold and a slight drop in blood pressure. The interruption caused a brief political scare as Mubarak — who has ruled Egypt since 1981 — does not have a designated successor.

Mubarak’s wife, Suzanne, and sons Gamal and Alaa accompanied the president to Germany.